See you in my 19th life

tvN’s latest K-drama sensation, “See You In My 19th Life,” is caught in a tempest of criticism from Iranian viewers due to its alleged misrepresentation of historical facts.

The series revolves around the extraordinary tale of Ban Ji Eum, portrayed by the talented Shin Hye Sun, who reincarnates an astonishing 19 times, retaining the memories of each past life. After a tragic accident cuts short her 18th life, she embarks on a mission to reconnect with a boy she encountered during that fateful existence. The premiere episode tantalizes viewers with glimpses into Ji Eum’s previous incarnations, including her 17th life as a male gymnast and her fourth life as an Arab man.

However, it’s a particular scene during an interview that has irked Iranian audiences. When Ban Ji Eum is questioned about her knowledge of Arabic, the character is shown having a flashback to the tenth century. In this flashback, the monologue suggests that her fourth reincarnation was responsible for creating an alcoholic beverage called “Arak,” which supposedly transformed into modern-day Soju after making its way through the Middle East, Mongolia, and Goryeo.

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Iranian viewers, well-versed in their country’s history, were quick to point out the cultural insensitivity of this portrayal. Historical records attribute the discovery of alcohol to the great Iranian alchemist, Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī, better known as Razi. According to documented evidence, Razi is credited with uncovering the secrets of sulfuric acid and ethanol. The latter, an essential ingredient in distilled spirits like vodka, tequila, and yes, even Soju.

Outraged Iranian netizens have swarmed Netflix Korea’s Instagram account, citing the factual information regarding Razi and demanding an apology for the show’s misrepresentation of the Iranian alchemist as an Arab man.

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As of now, Netflix Korea has yet to respond to the concerns raised by Iranian viewers, leaving them eagerly awaiting an acknowledgment and resolution to this historical hodgepodge.

In the realm of entertainment, it’s crucial to strike a delicate balance between creative storytelling and respecting the rich tapestry of cultures and histories. Let’s hope that this controversy serves as a lesson for future productions, promoting accurate representations while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse heritage.

Written by

Rajat Mehta

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